Metal Is Art
War Master – Blood Dawn
War Master attempt to create
a new form of the classic death metal and grindcore that defined
the underground metal period. Taking their name from a Bolt
Thrower song, the band might be expected to sound like that
august act, but the truth is more nuanced. War Master make a
language of their own from pieces of the past.
This language can be confusing because many of these pieces of
the past are recognizable, although never entire songs, so that
War Master tend to pair an old riff archetype with a new riff of
their own creation, or use song structure or aesthetic ideas but
apply them with new forms. As a result, parts of this are
immediately recognizable and it takes some moments to mentally
integrate the past with the current version of the same form.
Carbonized – Demo Collection
The Swedish grindcore band
Carbonized came from an era when metal was still defining
itself, and grew up alongside the more intense death metal acts
which were putting Sweden on the map. Carbonized remains
somewhat less known because the band embraced weirdness and
unconventionality in everything it did, which makes for great
art but not a conveniently wrapped-up listening experience.
Through three classic albums — For the Security,
Disharmonization, and Screaming Machines — Carbonized put its
mark on the death metal and grindcore underground by using
outrageous technique and converting ideas from other genres into
their metal equivalents. While in too “raw” of a form on the
Carbonized releases, these ideas were picked up by other bands
in more easily digestible forms and thus made their way into the
core of those genres.
Instrumental metal: an idea whose time has
When Burzum released Hvis
Lyset Tar Oss in 1994, underground metal was forever split. This
album featured longer songs where concept was closely
intertwined with song structure, and riff shape defined by mood.
It both made undone past paradigms and raised the bar.
After that point, black metal and death metal deflated. The
initial rise of ideas created in reaction to outrage at a dying
civilization was gone, and nothing else propelled the genre
forward, so it fell into self-imitation based on outward traits.
Further, few bands could handle the raised bar, so it was
“explained away” in social circles and the music tended toward
the more primitive, not less.
Lethal Prayer – Spiritual Decay
I used to move around a lot
when I was a young adult (perhaps I still am young compared to
some of the other more seasoned writers at DMU). Shortly before
I moved to Tampa, Florida I was acquainted with a band from
Pennsylvania called Lethal Prayer, which was like a mixture of
Acheron and Incantation influences with a Dissection-esque
undertone. Lead guitarist Belial Koblak also relocated to Tampa
and gave me CDs of each of his projects. I grew keen to Lethal
Prayer because of the era that it was from and the mentality
that’s behind it.
Spiritual Decay was self-released in 1996 by Koblak’s Decaying
Filth Music which issued most of his recordings and demos. The
album comprises straightforward early 1990s death metal with
competent musicianship. Koblak makes good use of his classical
influences to present interesting ideas which might’ve been
unorthodox in the death metal period when Spiritual Decay was
Codex Obscurum – Issue Three
The third edition of
contemporary old school print zine Codex Obscurum brings vast
improvements to this already-promising zine. Under the guidance
of editor Kevin Ord, Codex Obscurum has improved its
readability, positioned its content for an in-depth view of the
metal scene, become more consistent about its most important
sections and added experimental content that expands what we
think of metal zines.
Remember the first doom metal bonanza
Does anyone remember Morgion?
They had a reunion a few years ago, and it seemed to peak
interest for a month and then vanish. That’s a far cry from how
it was in the late 1990s when Morgion was considered the future
Morgion was atmospheric heavy metal styled doom metal, or
basically Black Sabbathy stuff with a little death metal
technique and a lot of keyboards. Death metal had just burnt
out, and the labels needed something new to fire out the
cannons. As a result, the first doom metal boom was born.
This boom died of course because the real public discovered
black metal exactly five years past its point of relevance, and
suddenly it was quite popular and everyone had to have a black
metal band. But before that, the labels and magazines had been
casting about for something to call the future. No one wants to
admit the best days are behind, but for all things, the day
comes when that is true.
Death Metal Epic I: The Inverted Katabasis by
The intersection of death
metal and fiction has so far remained fairly murky. Part of this
is because writing fiction about death metal is hard and has a
tiny audience, where writing fiction that mimics death metal is
downright impossible and will send us all scurrying back to our
Lovecraft and Poe.
However, Dr. Dean Swinford has given this one a shot with his
book Death Metal Epic I: The Inverted Katabasis. In occult
circles, the term katabasis takes on a new meaning of a descent
into hell or an occult world beneath this one. Death Metal Epic
I: The Inverted Katabasis describes an early 1990s death
metaller dealing with the collapse of his technical melodic
Tampa death metal band, and his rebirth first through an
alternate musical avenue, and next through his induction into
the extreme black metal underworld.
Is rock ‘n’ roll assimilating metal?
Metal interviews are like
connecting violent minds to an amplifier. The musician is given
a chance to speak plainly, and rewarded for saying something
outlandish enough to make a headline. It’s like pouring gasoline
on a fire.
Much as “in vino veritas” describes how drunk people often
accidentally blurt out the truth, interviews often get the
essential thoughts out of musicians. Tired, often doing multiple
interviews in a day, musicians are apt to cut to the chase.
Further, since they’ve been working that part of the brain that
makes language, they’re often at their clearest several
interviews into the process.
Thus it’s not sensible to either discount interviews, or to
wholly accept them without being critical. But recent comments
by Nominon drummer Per Karlsson highlight why metal interviews
will always be popular — the offhanded, casual and yet direct
blurting of truth...
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